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In defense of Tracy McGrady

By now, most people have read the critical comments about Tracy McGrady‘s practice habits made by his former coach, Jeff Van Gundy, and former GM, Daryl Morey, at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference last weekend.

For those who haven’t, here they are, as reported by SI’s Zach Lowe.

Malcolm Gladwell, the best-selling author, is moderating the first panel, which is about the notion, developed by experts who study talent and discussed in Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” that anyone interested in being truly great at something has to practice for at least 10,000 hours to reach an elite level of greatness. The point of the panel, which features Jeff Van Gundy and Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey, is ostensibly to talk about things like the concept of “natural talent,” the importance of work ethic and how to weigh those variables in the draft and in free agency.

Perhaps it was inevitable with the heavy Rockets flavor on the panel, but the discussion quickly to turned to Tracy McGrady — in an unfavorable way. “Tracy McGrady was 1,000 hours of practice,” Van Gundy said, to some pretty loud laughs. “He should be a Hall of Fame player. His talent was other-worldly. He was given a great leg up in the race against other players. He’s as close as I’ve ever seen to someone with a perfect body and a good mind.”

And here’s Morey on T-Mac:

“McGrady was the most gifted player I’ve ever had on the roster. I do think [his talent] got in the way of Tracy’s development. Much of the game was so, so easy — and you see this in the AAU level, where they have freakishly talented players. When it’s that easy to dominate at that young age, because of your physical tools — his wing span was freakish, his size was enormous, his IQ. But my sense was that all of that did get in the way of Tracy reaching his highest heights.”

And JVG one more time for good measure:

“I like a lot of things about Tracy McGrady. I just wish I could have changed his practice habits and his mentality.”

Those guys worked with McGrady for several seasons and were around him up close, so there’s certainly some merit to what they say. But there’s also some merit to saying that, other than the fragile Yao Ming, the Rockets never assembled a particularly great team around McGrady. There’s plenty of blame to go around for what happened during McGrady’s tenure in Houston, but it’s not as easy as simply saying, "well, the star player didn’t work hard enough." McGrady was a top-three player in the league for several seasons, and the toll of dragging some terrible teams, particularly in Orlando, to modest success impacted his body and ability to stay healthy.

I think the basis of what Van Gundy and Morey were arguing is that, for all his immense physical talents, McGrady never seemed to love and be obsessed with the game in the way that elite, transcendent talents (and McGrady certainly had the skillset to be one of the greatest ever) are.

But you know what? That’s OK. McGrady will still go down as a fantastic player, an MVP-level player at his peak, one of the most popular players of his era and a multiple-time All-Star. He’ll be a fringe Hall of Fame candidate, depending on how much longer he plays and the level of production he sustains.

I’ve made no secret writing for this site that I like McGrady. I actually respect the fact that he doesn’t seem outwardly basketball obsessed, it makes him more interesting. Yes, Kobe Bryant might spend significantly more time in the gym because he’s the Single White Female version of Jordan, and getting rings drives him. That obsession has no doubt made Bryant a more successful player and helped his teams win championships. But while Bryant is winning titles, McGrady is raising awareness about the genocide in Darfur. It boils down to this: what is more honorable bigger picture? Being a legendary basketball player or being a great humanitarian? Is Bill Russell looked at as the most noble figure in the game’s history simply because he won titles? Or is it because he became a leading voice on civil rights, education and other issues that transcended basketball?

The "McGrady doesn’t love the game" meme is a tired one. If he didn’t love the game, he wouldn’t, at age 30 after making millions of dollars, achieving significant stardom and personal accolades, have signed a make-good veteran’s minimum deal with a lousy team in the offseason to try and revive his career. If he didn’t love the game he wouldn’t have gone through the painful rehabilitation process to come back from injuries that have ended the careers of much younger men. He wouldn’t have willingly reinvented his game into a complimentary role player, becoming the lone unselfish player the Pistons put on the court at times this season. McGrady said as much to Vincent Goodwill:

"I worked my ass off and if people don’t believe that, after all the injuries and things I’ve been through, they’re crazy."

McGrady isn’t perfect. Now that he’s been removed from the Pistons rotation, he’s been vocal about his displeasure with that move. He never seemed entirely comfortable with the primary option role his immense talents suggested he should have. But the public questioning of his character as a basketball player by Morey and Van Gundy seems wrong. After all, if the Rockets didn’t win enough games with a talent like McGrady (and Yao), isn’t that at least partially on Morey for not putting pieces around those two that worked? If Van Gundy didn’t believe McGrady practiced hard enough, isn’t that partially on Van Gundy for not getting his message about the importance of better work habits through more clearly?

What makes the NBA great is the fact that it’s a league full of really different people. I enjoy the fact that McGrady devotes time to causes outside of basketball or that Dikembe Mutombo was building hospitals during his playing career or that Steve Nash wore shoes made out of trash or even the fact that LeBron James seems equally interested in being the next Snooki as the next Jordan. Whether you get behind the causes or not, I’d much rather see players who are well-rounded people, who are not afraid to pursue random things outside of basketball that inspire them.

Van Gundy and Morey think McGrady could’ve been one of the best ever, and he won’t live up to that level. But so what? McGrady has had a fantastic career and achieved the means to do positive things in the world. There’s nothing wrong with the obsessive drives to win titles of players like Isiah, Jordan or Bryant. But there’s also nothing wrong with talented basketball players who love the game, but love other things as well.

23 Comments

  • Mar 8, 20112:02 pm
    by drew phillip

    Reply

    i agree with you 100% mcgrady has a god given talent he had two choices sit on his talent or use his talent effectively and i think he has done a great job of being sucessful if tracy never would got injured this conversation would be irrevelant i believe he could have been one of the best of all time i watched him play and the guy was simply amazing!

  • Mar 8, 20112:19 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    this long-time nba fan doesn’t give a hoot about the personal lives
    of nba players.
    i could care less what any nba player thinks about any issue.
    i think it is admirable that players use their celebrity to highlight certain worthy issues and it does speak well for their character, but ultimately, all i care about is whether a guy can make a 20 foot jumper with the game on the line.
    i watch the nba to watch what goes on within the border of the court, and the rest of the stuff is just background noise.
    (on the other hand, jordan’s lack of character was truly revealed  when he made his infamous, “…republicans buy shoes, too….” when he refused to endorse an african-american senate candidate who was running against the odious jesse helms.  that, however, says nothing about his as a player, and it didn’t impact on my view of him as a player.)
    and the fact that a guy like jordan could make a clutch shot says nothing about his private morality.
    i find it curious that you would give so little weight to guys who are very familiar with mcgrady on a professional basis.  especially when their views are consistent with what fans have witnessed during mcgrady’s career.  yes, he’s played on some bad teams, but he also played on some pretty good teams during his career and the result was always the same.  zero playoff wins and mcgrady consistently coming up short when the chips were down, when the team needed him the most.
    it would be one thing if they’d made those comments about a player with a known record of achievement and an obvious commitment to getting the most out of his talent.
    sadly, that could never be said about mcgrady, and the fact that someone would stand up and tell the truth about a current player is refreshing and should be applauded.
    i also got a good laugh reading the line about mcgrady coming back because of a love for the game.
    if mcgrady truly “loved the game” he would have done everything he could have done to land on a team with a shot at a title.   he would have kept his mouth shut, said only the right things, and tried like heck to get his ring.  but he couldn’t help himself.   instead, he revealed that he didn’t get it, made comments that revealed a selfishness that scared teams away, and he ended up on a pitiful pistons’ team.   sure, when the shock of having to play for detroit sunk in, he saw the light and played in a way very few expected him to play.  but he is clearly here for one reason, as even he has admitted: a chance to show other teams that he can still play, so he can get that one last big payday.  i’d argue that getting that last multimillion dollar contract is the most obvious motivation for his rehab, not his alleged love for the game, something that has always been curiously absent during his career.
    mcgrady is who he is, who he has always been: a very talented guy who is capable of scoring lots of points and doing other things that make one go, “ooohhhh!!!!…”.
    he is and has been the poster child for many of the nba’s problems over the last couple of decades.
    has he been fun to watch at times?  sure.
    has he been a great basketball player?
    sure, at times.
    but is he a guy i would want on my team if i was in charge of constructing a championship roster?
    absolutely not, and for proof supporting my position, i’d simply point to his entire career.

    • Mar 8, 20112:37 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Ah, it’s been too long since I went line-by-line on one of your rants. Here we go:

      “i could care less what any nba player thinks about any issue.”

      Good. I feel the same way about certain commenters who write diatribes at the end of my posts.

      “all i care about is whether a guy can make a 20 foot jumper with the game on the line.”

      How about guys who can make a lot of 20 footers with the game on the line?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_CGxj3dHGA

      “jordan’s lack of character was truly revealed  when he made his infamous, “…republicans buy shoes, too….” when he refused to endorse an african-american senate candidate who was running against the odious jesse helms.  that, however, says nothing about his as a player, and it didn’t impact on my view of him as a player.”

      I actually like that Jordan said that. If your true character is that you’re a soulless capitalist, like Jordan truly was/is, I’m cool with that. I just like it when guys are their true selves, whatever that may be.

      “i find it curious that you would give so little weight to guys who are very familiar with mcgrady on a professional basis.”

      I don’t give it little weight. Both guys are intelligent basketball people and probably right on some levels. I just think it was classless on their part. If I’m a star player, do I want to play for coaches/execs who would publicly do that to me? Probably not.

      “yes, he’s played on some bad teams, but he also played on some pretty good teams during his career and the result was always the same.”

      Name me one team he was on that you considered a legitimate title contender. Certainly not the Orlando teams where his best teammates were probably marginal guys like Mike Miller or Drew Gooden. And the Houston teams were certainly better, but did you ever feel like they were better than the Lakers/Spurs/Mavs? I never saw Houston as anything more than, at best, the third most talented team in the West, and most years they were in the 4-6 range.

      “it would be one thing if they’d made those comments about a player with a known record of achievement and an obvious commitment to getting the most out of his talent.”

      At his peak, McGrady was a top two player in the NBA. Injuries quickly robbed him of his prime. But to say that he didn’t live up to his talent because he didn’t work hard is kind of crazy. He had devastating injuries.

      “if mcgrady truly “loved the game” he would have done everything he could have done to land on a team with a shot at a title.”

      OK … what if a contract isn’t offered? I mean, he wanted to be in Chicago. They didn’t want to sign him because they thought he had nothing left. He went to the only team that offered him a contract. I’m sure if the Bulls or Lakers or Heat offered him a deal before the Pistons, he would’ve taken those deals.

      “but he is clearly here for one reason, as even he has admitted: a chance to show other teams that he can still play,”

      He’s on a one-year contract and probably, at best, only has 2 or 3 years of basketball left in his legs. What the hell else should he be playing for?

      “he is and has been the poster child for many of the nba’s problems over the last couple of decades.”

      What, exactly, has McGrady done to make the NBA look bad? Has he been in trouble with the law? I mean, honestly, McGrady is a relatively quiet dude. He’s married to the mother of his children, he’s involved with a ton of charities. What exactly does he do that makes the league look bad?

      “absolutely not, and for proof supporting my position, i’d simply point to his entire career.”

      So your proof that he’s not a winner is that he never won a title playing with Yao’s oft-injured self? Seriously, name one of those teams in Orlando and Houston that you think could’ve legitimiately won a title? Go to basketball reference and look at the rosters. Compare them to the best teams in the league those seasons. Name one of those teams that you look back on and say, “Damn … it’s a travesty that team didn’t win a championship.”

       

  • Mar 8, 20112:45 pm
    by Rodman4Life

    Reply

    I can tell McGrady is one of your favorite players, and I like him as a person.  I could never really attach to a player like Bryant because of his obsession with the game.  I prefer a Tim Duncan mindset.  Great player, great work ethic, realistic lifestyle in the outside world.  And I also feel that McGrady’s pull for respect was always less about ego and more about appreciation.  Yet he will always be in Rasheed Wallace territory.  He has “blue monkey in the corner” talent, and no one can escape it.  Some players are so utterly blessed that it is just so painstakingly hard to view them in the light of who they are and not who they could’ve been.  Jeff Van Gundy and Morey are swell guys, but I think they know that in a league where nothing is given, McGrady’s potential being realized was their ONLY shot at realizing their own greatness.  They probably don’t even hate the guy, they just can’t help themselves without mentioning what could have been.

    • Mar 8, 20113:14 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      The difference between McGrady and Wallace is that McGrady actually had a couple of seasons where he was the most productive player in basketball. They just happened to come on horrid Orlando teams. This is the big “what-if” to me with McGrady:

      What if Grant Hill were never injured? A Hill in his prime and a young McGrady might have been enough to win the East in those early 2000s years of terrible East basketball. It certainly would’ve been enough to win a playoff series.

      Of course, the “what if” he could stay healthy is another big one, but as I said in a different comment, I never viewed those Houston teams as good enough to do much in the West. I think, at best, second round was their ceiling.

       

  • Mar 8, 20112:49 pm
    by Rodman4Life

    Reply

    Even though he was low risk, from the Pistons perspective, he only would have panned out if we got trade value for him OR he helped us into the playoffs.  Neither has happened, so it has been not good.  His minutes could have gone to someone else, and his suspected involvement in the mutiny is negative.  However, because he was so cheap, I don’t ding Dumars at all for this one.  Just another McGrady disappointment.

    • Mar 8, 20113:05 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Oh, I agree that from the Pistons perspective it made little sense to sign him. But the fact that McGrady has actually been pretty solid when everyone thought he was finished has to, in part, be a testament to him working very hard to come back from serious injury right?

  • Mar 8, 20114:11 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    “Good. I feel the same way about certain commenters who write diatribes at the end of my posts.”
    gee…if i could care less about what someone wrote or said the last thing i would do is respond specifically to what the person said or wrote.  if i truly didn’t care what they communicated, i would ignore them, not respond to them.
    you distort and twist my words.  where did i ever state that mcgrady was on potential title-winning teams?  never thought it, never said it.  i said that he was on pretty good teams, teams that should have at least won a playoff series, something one of his teams never did.  that orlando team that suffered the epic collapse against the pistons is exhibit a of a team that underachieved, a team that should have at least won one series.  and yes, mcgrady’s ill-timed words about already winning the series did not help the situation.  again, the standard you articulated and tried to impose on me is not the one i noted.
    this is what i wrote:
    “yes, he’s played on some bad teams, but he also played on some pretty good teams during his career and the result was always the same.  zero playoff wins and mcgrady consistently coming up short when the chips were down, when the team needed him the most.”
    again, where did i say anything about winning titles?  i did say something about playoff wins and i dont think it is unreasonable to imagine that a 14 year nba superstar would have at least been good enough to carry one of his teams to a playoff series win.
    “I don’t give it little weight. Both guys are intelligent basketball people and probably right on some levels. I just think it was classless on their part. If I’m a star player, do I want to play for coaches/execs who would publicly do that to me? Probably not.”
    funny, phil jackson does something of that sort every year.  he is famous for coaching through the media, saying very unflattering things about any of his players and everyone, kobe included.  it hasn’t seemed to hurt his career.  in fact, he is applauded for his ability to motivate players in whatever way is effective.
    “I mean, he wanted to be in Chicago. They didn’t want to sign him because they thought he had nothing left.”
    simply not true.  i followed that situation closely and he had a pretty good workout, but his comments in the media sunk any possible deal.  he had an infamous on-camera interview where he talked about coming in and being a starter.   prior to those comments, it looked like he was going to sign with the team, but his comments spooked them.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/nba/news/story?id=5412508
    chicago didn’t sign mcgrady, not because of his on-court audition,  but because they didn’t want him coming into their team  and upsetting things by demanding to start.  a guy with a better head would have realized his situation from the start, kept his head down and said all the right things.   if winning and getting a ring was so important, he would have understood that from the beginning. obviously, he learned his lesson because he both said the right things and did the right things, for most of the year in detroit.  but he learned his lesson too late to get on a contender.
    “He’s on a one-year contract and probably, at best, only has 2 or 3 years of basketball left in his legs. What the hell else should he be playing for?”
    gee…according to you, he’s playing for the love of the game.  i fully understand and appreciate him being a mercenary and looking for the one last contract.  but i dont confuse that with the love of the game.
    “What exactly does he do that makes the league look bad?”
    he obviously does not understand what it takes to be a winning basketball player.  he obviously thinks that getting a catchy nickname, scoring lots of points and ending up on sportscenter highlights is the end-all for basketball stars.  winning basketball games – and playoff series and titles – is obviously secondary to those other things.  i never said he made the nba look bad.  i said that he was the poster child for many of the league’s problems.  many of those problems are linked to, imho, a focus on individual achievement and attention, at the expense of team success.  that is what i was referring to.
    “So your proof that he’s not a winner is that he never won a title playing with Yao’s oft-injured self?”
    again, you distort what i wrote, by applying a standard i do not even believe in.  plenty of great players i respect never won titles.  guys like charles barkley and john stockton.  but somehow, even though those guys played on plenty of bad teams, they somehow found a way to win one playoff series, somehow, someway.  that is the standard i used and it is one of the standards i apply.
    i just wish you would not find it necessary to distort what i wrote in order to make your point.
     
     
     
     

    • Mar 8, 20114:28 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Dude … I get that it was a meltdown to blow a 3-1 series lead. But that Orlando team was the EIGHT SEED. How could they have been expected to win a playoff series? Because Drew Gooden and Gordon Giricek are such a damn good supporting cast?

      As for your Phil Jackson comparison, Jackson does it to players ON HIS TEAM. Morey/JVG were more ripping on a player who used to play for them, and it had an air of blaming him for Houston’s failings when in reality, injuries to stars, bad chemistry and not always great personnel decisions impacted those teams as well.

      Again, the Barkley/Stockton comparisons are lame. Stockton played his entire career with a Hall of Fame teammate, a man who won a MVP award and a man who was one of the most durable players in league history. Barkley played on a couple solid Philly teams early in his career, was on an absolutely loaded PHX team that lost to the Bulls in the Finals (and, if we’re going to talk about playoff meltdowns, absolutely choked down 3-1 to Houston) and he played with Hakeem/Drexler, albeit late in their careers. McGrady’s best teammate was Yao, a man who has been chronically injured his entire career. You don’t see a difference?

  • Mar 8, 20114:38 pm
    by showme

    Reply

    It appears that all this mention of McGrady lean toward some afterthoughts. It may sound philosophical but I feel that the success of a child (the pro athlete in the case) reflects paranting skills. I submit that most all players and, mostly the highly successful have simultaneously reflects the best in their coaches and managers,as well.   Hence, when the player fails to achieve his highest potential it shouln’t just be a reflection on him but also those who have been a part of his/her intricate support system.  If one buys this theeory than both Morey and Van Gundy should be answering some questions about their failuresas well.

    If one is lucky enough to be a Piston fan, this logic rings true with the current coach and General Manager situation. Why are fans persistent in asking for the heads of both, Kuerster and Joe–because they blame them for the failure of the team and for each individual player.  You see, it’s not the question that there’s no talent to be coached (some is have gifted potential), but whether the coach is capable of coaching it (an developing talent). And, it’s the question of whether those who are guiding the ship (Dumars) has the vision and decisiveness to right the ship.  If both of these answers are no, than hold your breath.  While Monroe is a special success, there are no All Stars this year. Who should be blamed?

    No, McGrady is not a perfect man.  But I agree with you Patrick (But the public questioning of his character as a basketball player by Morey and Van Gundy seems wrong…).  While Kobe and Jordan are HOF material, I would argue that it’s not only because of their being gifted players, but because they have also been supported by gifted coaches and wise management.  The latter were obliged to know and apply what is needed to guide them to their destinations (including developing other team players).  I would argue that coaches like Van Gundy and GMs like Morey failed short, and (failed) McGrady.  This is not an isolated occurrence.  It happens all of the time in professional sports, and, where the pundits can or won’t connect the dots.

    Last, but not least, McGrady ain’t done yet.

  • Mar 8, 20114:40 pm
    by Juan

    Reply

    Its about time someone like you made a point about him. I agree with you 100% people dont see what McGrady has done and how hard he has worked. He was given that talent but was also stripped from that talent. He didnt want to get injured it just happened. But because of the love he has for the game he is trying his hardest to get back on the court.
    ALL OF YOU HATERS dont know what McGrady has gone through get your facts straight.

  • Mar 8, 20115:05 pm
    by Arup Sen

    Reply

    I was at the conference in question and perhaps the comments sound worse when seen in black and white rather than when they were made. I think they were speaking as much to his gifts as the fact that perhaps he didn’t reach the hypothetical peak of his career.

    • Mar 8, 201110:21 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I don’t think Morey and McGrady were purposely trying to bash McGrady. In fact, I think they both like him. I just think, if you’re point is some players don’t realize their full potential, there are much, much better examples to use than McGrady.

  • Mar 8, 20115:08 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    a 3-1 playoff advantage is huge and there is a reason only a handful of teams have ever blown that kind of series lead.  of course, it doesn’t help matters when your superstar player makes epically dumb statements about already moving on before the series is even over.
    facts are facts, that series was an all time blown opportunity.  mcgrady was the star of the team.  he got credit when they won, but he should not get blame when they lose?
    not true about jackson.  he talks about everybody, if you haven’t noticed.  personally, i think he is an a@@ and i do not like him, but his methods are eerily similar to the ones you criticized.  and again, if their comments were inconsistent with his career path that would be one thing.  but they perfectly dovetail with everything we know about mcgrady.  why should they not be believed?
    and i find it deliciously ironic when mcgrady apologists always resort to talking about the teammates mcgrady never had, while never acknowledging mcgrady’s own failings.
    by the way, what superstars did the pistons have when they beat orlando?
    ridiculous.  amazing.   we’re talking about winning a playoff series, not a title.

    • Mar 8, 201110:28 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      No one is undeserving of criticism when you blow a 3-1 series lead, for sure. But the dude averaged 31.7 points/6.7 boards/4.7 rebounds/2.0 steals per game in that series and shot 45 percent. The fact is, Orlando was the worst playoff team that year and Detroit was the best team in the East. McGrady put them on the bring of winning a series they really had no business being in. They certainly collapsed, and his comment was certainly dumb, but hey, it happens. The better team won that series.

      “by the way, what superstars did the pistons have when they beat orlando?”

      Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups were both top five players at their respective positions statistically that season.

  • Mar 8, 20117:13 pm
    by wowzer

    Reply

    Frankie is not even a Pistons fan. my guess he is a bitter YOF and Rockets fan

    • Mar 8, 201110:28 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      He is a Pistons fan. Just not a PistonPowered fan.

      • Mar 9, 20112:44 am
        by frankie d

        Reply

        again, wrong.
        while you were right about me being a pistons fan, you are totally incorrect about me not being a pistonpowered fan.
        the fact is that i read the site routinely, often agree with what is posted, but i sometime disagree, especially when the subject turns to mcgrady and stats.
        when i disagree, i’m inclined to express that disapproval, while i most times do not post something when i agree.
        i definitely appreciate the work done here and if i wasn’t a fan i wouldn’t read the site  regularly and get such pleasure out of irritating the various writers like you and dan.

  • Mar 8, 20118:14 pm
    by Joe Schlmoe

    Reply

    I’m OK with the premise that McGrady is a “good guy”, and his talent/career was robbed by injuries.  But he’s made his share of bonehead moves and/or comments.  On top of that when you accept a “Max” contract, you have a responsibility to be “The MAN”.  He’s not the only one not to live up to that very high standard, but it is what it is.

    We heard from his Rocket ex-employers, let’s take a poll from the Orlando area to get their opinion of his tanking (again, he’s not the only one to do that, or be accused of that).

    All and all, I’m glad that he has had some good moments with the Pistons this year.  If nothing else, to show the rest of the league that he can change, and he does have something left.

  • Mar 8, 20119:06 pm
    by DAGURU

    Reply

    Please, listening to Van Dummy(which some of us called him when he coached my Knicks) on tv, shows that he talks too much and recklessly.He is even worse as a commentator than he was as a coach ok.The last time my team went to the finals in 1999 was in spite of him,he wanted to slow it down,even though our team was better suited to run.He also almost refused to play Camby at first because he was mad management traded him for Oakley without his blessing,he only got the job because Don Nelson wanted to have the team focus on Anthony Mason instead of Ewing and Ewing got Nelson fired and told them to hire Da Dummy,Ewing has a job with the Dummys for life if he wants,he’s also a good big man coach..Da Dunce-y also staged a him or our GM Grunfeld had to go,so because it was late in the season management sided with him,He showed back then he’s a snake. So the players decided to run on their own and when it was successful he couldnt do anything.HE SUCKS OK.He thinks basketball should come first in life.I remember last year ABC did something on Vince Carter and how he built a drug rehab center because his brother had a drug problem and he wanted to help him and the snake Van Gumby no more than 5 minutes later came on and talked foul about Vince.Maybe his,  the coach has to call every play, slow down ,grind it out approach drained TMAC and his team.The Big Van dummy sucks as a coach ,that’s why Morey fired him and brought in Adelman,because he knew that coaching style was killing his team.And all we ever hear is how futurisitc Morey is but his teams are nothing great.It’s funny Da Dummy talks about TMAC’s lack of desire but we in NY remember Jeffy quitting on the team like 20-30 games into the season.It seems like he and Mark Jackson get paid by the word and they both say so many stupid things,which is killing Jackson’s chance to get a head coaching job,who would hire him off his tv work.Bottom line TMAC is more successful at  what he does  in basketball and in life than Morey and Da Dummy combined and has more bank.How TMAC always says Da Dummy was his best coach I dont get,maybe he forgot about Doc Rivers,was coach of the year I believe with Tmac who has a ring and would coach circles around stupid Van Dummy. I guess its the old their ice is colder mentality.Glad I ran into your article from ESPN,keep up the good work.

  • Mar 8, 20119:45 pm
    by Stephen

    Reply

    One of the better what-ifs in the NBA was when Phil and Shaq tried to push a Kobe for McGrady trade in 2003. But Buss sided w/Kobe leading to Shaq’s trade and Phil leaving. Beyond what would have happened in LA,Kobe would have likely forced a trade to Phoenix that summer(where McGrady forced one to Houston).
    What kind of numbers would Kobe have put up under D’Antoni?
     
    McGrady’s Play-Off lack of success is two-sided. He had some really bad teams,bad luck(Juwan Howard going down w/heart problems just before the Dallas Series,leaving Ryan Bowen as the starting PF!,Luther head going 0-for a whole Series against Utah,Hunter twice fumbling away balls under basket against Detroit late when game was tied,last Series against Utah w/Yao out and Alston missing 2 1/2 games w/ankle injury-and team lost all three). OTOH,there were 3 Series that offered multiple opportunities for him to take over and win the Series and it didn’t happen.
    To be fair to Morey,he wasn’t the GM thru McGrady’s first few yrs in Houston. Once he got to Houston Morey has steadily improved team,to point he has a perfect supporting cast,just no star.

    • Mar 8, 201110:30 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Again, I think Morey is a fantastic GM and Van Gundy is a solid coach. I just don’t think McGrady is a good example of a player who didn’t live up to his talents. Injuries certainly robbed him, but he was one of the best players in the league when he was healthy. Just because they thought he could’ve been better doesn’t mean he underachieved.

  • Mar 8, 201110:36 pm
    by mikebass14

    Reply

    I never liked T-Mac’s game, probably because I only started to watch him when he played on the Rockets and he seemed to take a lot of difficult/bad shots. My emotional reaction to him has also been negative because I live in China and whenever a guy tries some ridiculously difficult one on three maneuver, misses, and seems proud of himself anyway for trying, I privately blame McGrady. That said, I’m all for liking players even if they aren’t model workers, all the more so if they lead admirable private lives.I liked Sheed,  I will always love Antoine Walker, and he even has a distinctly un-admirable private life (though I’ve heard that he’s a sweet guy, which came through on tv. Just no discipline).
    But I think it’s fine to enjoy a player’s game/talent, and admire/like them for their personality and off-court activities, and at the same time admit that they could have worked harder. Your points about the rosters he played on and the value of his speaking up about Darfur are taken, and it’s all good to defend what you like about McGrady and say the good things he did outweigh his shoddy work ethic, but don’t fault Morey and Van Gundy for speaking the truth about it. They didn’t even say anything about winning titles, they just said that with the mental and physical talent he had he could have been a lot better. How hard you work at your job is not sensitive private information. Obviously Morey and Van Gundy preferred having a lazy McGrady to not having him. They weren’t saying that he is a bad basketball player or person, but working hard is working hard, and being lazy is being lazy and there’s nothing wrong with calling it like it is.

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